The Bears amazingly survived Jay Cutler’s first four interceptions. It was the fifth that killed them.
Down 10-6, Cutler drove his team 68 yards in just over two minutes through a storm of penalties to set up a first down on San Francisco’s 12-yard line with 13 seconds remaining.
Incomplete pass to Greg Olsen.
Interception intended for Olsen.
Realistic playoff hopes over.
It could be easily argued that three of Cutler’s picks weren’t his fault. But his first and last of the night were picked off in the end zone and came on brutal throws. He’s now thrown 11 picks in three prime time games. (NFL.com has put together a collection of the five picks Thursday.)
On the final play, Cutler appeared to have enough running room to try to run for a touchdown. He chose to pass, and misfired by a few feet on a throw on the run. Olsen wasn’t open anyway.
It was a fitting end to an ugly night of football. It wasn’t just great defense — the Bears gained 350 yards and there were penalties and mental mistakes aplenty.
“We didn’t get beat. We lost,” Bears defensive tackle Tommie Harris said after the game.
The 49ers should have put the game away earlier, but Alex Smith was held to 118 yards on 23 largely conservative attempts. Frank Gore was the game’s best player, with 125 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown.
The win keeps San Francisco’s playoff hopes alive at 4-5, especially considering they finish the season with St. Louis and Detroit. But they will likely need Arizona to slide and create more explosive plays from an offense that hardly destroyed the Chicago front. These 49ers don’t look that different from Mike Nolan’s squads.
The Bears’ schizophrenic defense played better Thursday, but this team has plenty of flaws. The offensive line and running game struggled badly, and quality quarterbacks will attack the Bears secondary. Chicago faces Philadelphia, then travels to Minnesota.
A 4-7 record looms.
And just Jay Cutler’s luck, the Eagles game is on Sunday night. With 11 interceptions in three evening games this season, let’s just call him the new “Prime Time.”